Today, I met with a dear woman who is a connector. She has a paid job where she also works, but she volunteers her time to connect people with their past through genealogy. I had an appointment at the Clayton Genealogy Library with her today and we had a sweet hour of relating our own lives and our own histories. We talked of our relatives and their historical significance, and our treasures that we have of their lives. We also spoke of our lives today and how we enjoy serving others in various ways. We both miss the older days when the church was the connector to bring people together and match needs with volunteers. Both of us attend churches where you have to work hard to be needed. This dear lady found connections several places besides church to fill that gap, and is doing a world of good. Besides helping people research genealogy, she connects with our soldiers by emailing several of them daily and “adopting” them as well as their families.
In our previous churches, we served because someone needed help. Whether it was making cookies, or helping with a funeral, or visiting a sick friend or sending a card or taking some flowers, we were the elected ones. We were often all there was to see that each one felt like they mattered—both in being needed to help and being needed to receive that help. The lady I met today has found a place to do those things again but it is not in church. The church feels distant to her. The church seems too polished to be needy. Often, the church pays to have so many of the things volunteers once did. Every warm body was needed for something, even if it was helping fold bulletins on Sunday morning. Few people stood around with idle hands, and we knew everyone’s name. We all pitched in and, in working side by side, formed lifetime friendships of respect and joy. Newcomers were easily spotted and we greeted them and introduced them to our friends. Sunday school was led by a volunteer coordinator, vacation bible school took months to save all those silly supplies for craft time, and nobody paid a dime to attend. Recently, I facilitated a committee on how to bring newcomers in and make them feel welcome. It was eye-opening. There is a formula now for those who must know how to properly greet and keep prospective members. You know, I’ve said it before, and I really don’t want to be one of those people who lament change. I realize that people’s needs are changing, especially in their time constraints. However, people’s basic needs to connect and be needed will always be there. Could it be as simple as a potluck dinner or a free vacation Bible school where everyone who was able pitched in? Or are we going to have to find new connectors with other organizations or virtual connections like blogland to fill that gap? I feel all could very happily co-exist, but we often are losing the battle to connect people and needs in big churches. How about you? Do your churches feel like family or have they become so big that it is difficult to connect?
Nancy and Barbara, you both remind me that God leads us to serve, not others. Your hearts for ministry is blessed–Nancy by your immediate response that a child wanted you to be their teacher, and Barbara, by knowing your own need as a being on your own and using it to reach out to others in that same boat. I go to church alone, and my husband attends at another church, so I sit by myself most Sundays. Most of us would like it to be different, but a hug and a sweet word from a friend surely helps. You remind me I could be that person to others. Thank you both for reminding me even in serving, it should not be a selfish pursuit.
I have been attending the same church since my parents took me as a baby…. but I can relate to the stuggles others have ‘fitting in’ to a large church. For the past three years I have been involved in a bible study ‘Connections’, reaching out to ‘spiritual widows’ (wives whose husbands don’t attend church), also other women who are widows, divorced, single etc. We welcome newcomers, and I think it helps when you recognize someone in church who you know and are able to fellowship with. There are too many women coming to church and leaving without a word to anyone. I am a woman on her own, being led by God to serve others.
My husband and I grew up in the same church, went our separate ways for many years and when we met again and married we went back to the church of our youths…We knew we were there to stay….but God had a different plan and now we are in the sister church…same denomination. We love the local church, but sometimes feel like you about how to connect.
I vowed I would never do Bible School again….then last year when I was asked, I said I would pray about it, but to just try to fill that spot…a few days later I was really feeling like I needed to do this thing I didn’t want to do! When I said yes, the director told me her daughter had been praying I would be her teacher. Humbling, very humbling. We need to get back to doing things. My husband and I do nursery once a month and greet…both things we feel called to do.